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Gordon Wood Education. (2011) Gordon Wood ('The Idea of America Reflections on the Birth of the United States.')

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Virginia 14, United States 13, America 12, Us 12, Jefferson 11, Washington 6, Massachusetts 5, France 4, Hamilton 3, Russia 3, Soviet Union 3, England 3, Benjamin Franklin 2, Mel Gibson 2, South Carolina 2, Vietnam 2, Lafayette 2, Europe 2, Ben Franklin 1, United 1,
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  CSPAN    Book TV    Gordon Wood  Education.  (2011) Gordon Wood ('The Idea of  
   America Reflections on the Birth of the United States.')  

    July 17, 2011
    10:45 - 12:00am EDT  

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and things of that nature. she calls on western democracies to work toward better assimilation and integration of former moslem countries
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>> good to be here with you. one thing to start, it is a real treat gordon is one of the nation's preeminent historians of the period but yet to at times come and i say this with the best, contrarian, and he says what he feels and his book, the adm of america is a fabulous book and doing a book signing afterwards. if you love history, not just revolutionary period but this is something you should have on your bookshelf. having said that, hoping for a 10% after words. [laughter] but i thought we would start off by putting general questions about history then ease our way into the book as well.
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since we are here of the national archives, i want to get your thoughts on the following. the lack of historical knowledge among young people? why is that important we should study history? >> what memory is to an individual without knowing where you come from but but why should that be from not knowing? i think for a society that is a comparable situation in. it will be difficult to know where we will go. but to get to the barings
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barings, that is the classic answer why we should study history. it is the queen of humanities and without knowing history, but i think one lives in a two dimensional room. not experience a reality as it should be experiencing -- experience. but it did is as important as the others and once you acquire, not just history as information about the past but study it you develop a historical sense to see the world differently. with the added dimension and on the world of reality. then fell whole world feels different and the perception is different because you have an understanding of the past. >> as we sit here speaking come with a set of remarkable momentous events
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sri being in the middle east called arab spring where people are rising of trying to grab of peace of a greater say of the destinies but it what do you think the founders could teach them? what could they learn by looking at the experience of america as they wrestled to set up the republicans? >> that is what we are told and that is true and what all of the other things that come with democracy. they see how they live and they want a share of that. the issue is that democracy is hard work and does not come easy. in the barco government is
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easy to put together in the world has always had monarchies although that is the wrong word to use now but we have a lot of the nine it marquise's the that is how the founders sought its. they've been too authoritarian government it is difficult to govern a democracy that has to be governed from the bottom up and will lean-tos sacrifice for the good of those polled. but surrendering some of the private interest for the sake of the public good that requires self sacrifice and is not easy. levying french philosopher of the 18th century says it can exist only in small
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stages because you cannot build day consensus. that was an important principle of who they had to confront wow! dry up the constitution. because they would not be surprised when the authoritarian government was removed from yugoslavia. and with the other ethnic groups that were at each other's throats in the yugoslav area. but suddenly all of the british parks began fighting with one another. setting a course then those differences make democracy very difficult because people have too willingly surrender the selfish
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interests and that is not easy to do. the founders would have come in in became very pessimistic about other people to become democratic. they thought the french were following them and 10 years later many french leaders thought so. lafayette who was at the outset of 1789 with bastille day in france is still july 14th celebrated as the beginning of the french revolution and said the key to george washington and it is in mount vernon that is the way to say you are responsible and americans assumed that they were responsible for all of the revolutions that took place in the 19th century. but they were the vanguard of history spreading democracy around the world
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but with the french revolution, then they became pessimistic about the ability of other people to be like them which gave us the notion that they were exceptional. exceptional is the which is very controversial, but the hope bandage dream that other people would follow us has always been there. but my last essay in the book is why america wants to spread democracy around the world. not necessarily send troops but by example to show the world that we could do that. that is what abraham lincoln was all about and mobilizing
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has the last best hope. napoleon iii, have the new empire in france. there was no democracy left. so he was appealing to that dream to keep the hope alive. that is part of the history from the beginning. >> host: would the founders be counseling patience? to say this should have been quickly? it took us time, many years years, and we came out to light in the tradition. maybe missed could take a generation or longer? they did not have a single mission mike jefferson would be enthusiastic he had them magnanimous view of human nature and people got rid of
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the oppressive authoritarian government to the of one another than everything works out but on the other hand, it is very pessimistic and cynical about human nature and he would be pessimistic. to say let's see? the one thing is that it is a prerequisite. but it is the least important part of building a democracy. and rare americans tend to think to solve the problem when you need a civic society and institutions which make up that civic society to make us governor ball if you will to make the system work. nor any saying that ties people together to make the world more complicated that
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new democracy can work with that kind of a gaap. and they would not have put it in these terms, but they and they're stood democracy was hard work and does not come easy. >> host: very interesting. sticking on this theme, switching the frame frame, of what has been talked about how the leaders , or the president whomever that may become a they need to know more about history as they govern. you said some very interesting things over the years about presenting a more nuanced framework in terms of how much the leaders can learn. tell us about that if you can? >> that is a tricky issue. we hope the leaders understand because they
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carry on a tradition so to have dark days or they will lose their way. no doubt about that. but too much historical consciousness can have problems. forget the past. the more you are aware of the difficulties and not anticipated consequences of the action, that history teaches nothing works out how it is intended but if you to absorb that message to fully, you will not know what to do for fear you have contrary results. fat is one of the lessons of history. i don't think there is much
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danger of us becoming paralyzed in that sense. i think we could take a little more and take off the road coaster of emotions. you get perspective and you get us since it is not as bad as you think it is or as great as you think it is. i think we are a fairly healthy society. i am confident we have just the right balance for the most part. we're not on a roller-coaster. they could feel this is the end how people feel the united states is declining. but remember japan would take over the world of the eighties and bar rockefeller center and put this into the dustbin of history? that didn't happen in need
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more perspective but now it will be china. we will be around a little while longer. so to level at the emotions, nor is it the apocalypse -- apocalyptic time coming. >> read your "new york times" and watch c-span in listen to npr. >> also though "wall street journal." >> get balanced news. [laughter] >> of friends at the "journal" will like that. >> if founders were magically transported today, what would shock them and what would they recognize? >> the question is interesting. i give talks to the audience here and inevitably what
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with jefferson think of affirmative action or george washington st. of the invasion of iraq? interesting questions. questions ordinary people ask. i don't think anyone in england would say what do they think about care rents government? so we have a connection with these founders. an intimate connection. . .
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>> very self-conscious say
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work negative at that. no person in our history was so self-conscious to be virtuous that turned me off as a synonym we don't use the term that way. this interested means of interested but partial because we cannot believe anybody is truly does interested. the only does interested people left because they run for office. but umpires and referees they are the only ones we count on being truly does interested. rise above that economic interest. they counted on the zero leaders to be interested in washington. talk about that relationship for a minute.
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one of the most vicious decades in our history. coming very close to a civil war as close as we could to the actual civil war war, hamilton is frightened of what it jefferson and represents and washington and hamilton, they thought that jefferson and madison in lourdes levying a group
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to support the french puppet regime. the french army would invade the united states. it was a real fear. retrospective it looks foolish. those people don't know what will happen to them. we know the future of our cells. so hamilton and washington and many federalist feared that the french invasion. it creates the bavarian republic why couldn't they invade the united states? they have these jeffersonian republicans and will create a puppet regime that is the fear between 80 in sedition act. they are truly frightened. in destroying napoleons and
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team and once he has no fleet then there is no invasion. but talking about we cannot have a french president meaning jefferson. they were very much at each other's throats and we think our press is rough? [laughter] you do no better, it was just mischa's. they accused washington of being able. he was working for the british government that is the accusation made. it is incredible the distortions and lies washington would shake his head and could not believe it. say would say these awful things said he was so desperate to say he wanted to get out of the political world. >> his cabinet said he was
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aging before their eyes and one meeting where he cost loudly and i don't think i can say it is because the c-span's. [laughter] but he was deeply disillusioned by what was happening. his last letter is six months before he died, the federalist are desperate to get him back. they applied him to run against jefferson to come back and save the country. he writes in a disparaging letter to say it does not matter. the way things are now, parties have taken over you could put up a broomstick and it would win as a seventh hot -- son of liberty and it is just as true of us.
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it does not matter any more. the parties have taken over, statutory individual character no longer matters. it is a party candidate. he was right because they were taking over and he felt his leader would no longer matter. that became increasingly true over the next 20 or 30 years as the society became more democratic and populist. by the time you get to martin van buren you have people who have no distinction whatsoever. he was a canny politician part of the best party organization in new york has ever seen probably and catapulted himself into the presidency. it was that popular world.
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when jefferson heard andrew jackson almost one the world of eight -- was deeply disillusioned
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the national government that can out of the constitution ten years later so something awful had to have been between 1776 and 1787 to convince people to create a national government hadn't even been on their radar screen, and they know how strong that government is because we still live under it, so the thing that happened was a series of weaknesses in the articles but more important was the future of democracy running amok, and that's what made madison to create his virginia plan and the result of the constitution which acts as a kind of limit on democracy.
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the courts became a very important federalist device in the democracy. we don't like to think in this term because we have tremendous trust in the people but we know we have all kind of limitations on the people. we don't like unadulterated majoritarian democracy, and if the egyptians or the other states create just majoritarian democracy, then they experienced some of the problems the american face in the 70's because we want limits, we want democracy, individual rights, minority rights. we have a lot of checks on democracy. our democracy is a mixed bag. it's not just pure majoritarianism and that's a lesson they learned and by the constitution is so complicated.
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separation of power, breaking up power, limiting government because they learned the lesson and a very short period of time in the 70's. >> talk about the founders for just one more moment. when we think of the fact they had created this constitution that has endured to this day, it really is a remarkable event. what happened in those 55 days when they went to philadelphia and wanted to read the article consideration and obviously they did something totally unexpected. and then related to that, if you could talk for a minute if you can about the caliber of these people, these founders, and these men who put it together in a way that no one else in history had quite seem. >> well they weren't superhuman, they were not demagogue's although jefferson referred to that. they were very well educated.
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55 men, college graduates, about 34 or 55 vv 235 were lawyers. they were experienced political figures that had served in the continental congress or state legislatures or had been governors, so -- or diplomats. they were experienced people. there was a convention, most of them are nationalists, that is to say they wanted -- it's probably a good thing jefferson was as minister of finance because he came in the convention because i think he would have not liked the virginia plan that his friend and colleague, madison, proposed, which is extraordinarily strong government. so, you have a kind of lewd convention. lansing and yates from new york have come to the convention as soon as they see this virginia
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plan they begin to grasp the implications of it and walked out. we don't want this. so the result of course is the promise for months when you think of it of a closed off -- they took vows of secrecy with regard to the bill and of course couldn't get away with that today. madison leader said we could have never done it if the press had been involved, because this allowed people to make statements they could then retract because there's no record. nobody's calling to hold you to it. of course there's something to be said for that kind of secrecy behind doors because otherwise he make a statement and are held to that and you have no compromise. they are compromised all over the place. now madison is the one who drew up the virginia plan. he wrote it. he was deeply disappointed in
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the result. she had two main points that he wanted. one was a negative power given to the congress over all state laws. think of it, the impracticality of it. this is a bright guy yet he doesn't think for. think of 50 states had to send all their bills to congress, congress had to okay them. okay this. that's how madison started his veto. it was totally impractical and gets thrown out of the place by article 1 section 10 which lists a few things the state can't do, thank god. [laughter] the other thing that madison wanted was proportional representation. he wanted to get the states out of the federal government, no representation, no senate in other words with the state. and when the convention wouldn't go along with these there are small states whose it like the majority in connecticut said we are not giving up at least in
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one house we have to be represented by the state and he loses that battle and is in despair. in july he caucuses with his fellow nationalists and the next day says let's walkout. we should walk out of this convention. if the virginians walked out, that's the and. you have to understand virginia is the top dog. virginia has one-fifth of the population in the nation, it's by far the richest state and territory and includes much of the present midwest. so as virginia goes, so does the nation. and without virginia, we have no nation. it's not surprising. four out of the first five presidents were virginians. so when madison says to his colleagues should we walked out? that would have been the end of the convention it would have collapsed without virginia. they decide to stay and this result which medicine is not happy about. he writes to jefferson, and you can read those letters. some of them may be here,
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certainly in the library of congress. he says this thing is not going to work. jefferson goes right by. he's been passed for several yrs and doesn't really grasp what medicine is telling him. and all he says is we should have a bill of rights. and madison just groans when he hears that. and then jefferson turns to maryland saying the same thing. a bill of rights. then that becomes a principal argument on the antifederalist spirit and one of the principal arguments -- and it almost brings the constitution down. jefferson's reason for that is because his liberal friends, lafayette and others, say no good constitution can be without a bill of rights and all my liberal friends say that. he hasn't thought through the problems the way medicine has. madison has a very intelligent
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answer to that question triet y no bill of rights, that it doesn't have any effect on jefferson. and the power of the notion of the bill of rights, which of course is part of the english tradition, is picked up by others and it becomes one of the most potent arguments of the constitution. >> and of course near the end of your book you are what i think is a very poignant instant where you talk about giving the speech and a woman says to you okay, you've been talking about the constitution. what about the bill of rights? >> this was an extraordinary experience of my life. it was 1976, and i was promoting the bicentennial of the revolution. this is the for solidarity. economists are still in control. my room was barred and i had a hammer real all over the place. the scale of the authoritarian
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state. and so i give this jury conventional lecture on the american revolution and this young polish woman, academic, says professor, you left out the most important part of the american revolution. i was stunned. the most important part i left of? she says yes, you never mentioned the bill of rights, and i hadn't. i take the the contract for granted but this woman under the authoritarian regime concerned with individual liberty, she couldn't take those individual rights for granted. and so that, for her, was the most important part of the revolution. i'd never forgotten that because this happened -- it took a lot courage for her to see that. people in the audience were probably going to investigate her and things were changing its 1980 with no solidarity services for years before solidarity. she was coming to be questioned, i'm sure, for just even asking that question. it took courage. and i never forgot that.
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>> one of the things you've also been describing, as i sort of picture some of the strands of our conversation as you were talking about discord, the threat of civil war, and in other words, when you are really talking about is the american experiment was in the beginning a very fragile experiment. >> i got the idea from you, "the great upheaval." you deal with the larger world dealing with not just atlantic world. jay's book includes russia and france as well as the united states. as a cargo of great promoter. the next thing the arab springs palin comparison because this was a major, major transformation in the american european world, and all of them failed except the united states. now, some people can say we failed in 1861 also we survived. yeah, but it was not easy to
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build a democratic policy, and i think that's the one lesson to draw from that experience. and in some sense we failed because we fell apart, and we carried each other at a rate of 600,000 plus man died to build this dream, which is what lincoln used. i mean, that -- what's interesting about the civil war is not the fact that the south seceded. people are talking about secession from the very beginning. you know, the federalists to about seceding in 1803e and 1814. this decision all the way it to the actual session. but its a big deal but the interesting question is why it is the number care? and that -- >> and? >> what's fascinating is that lincoln -- the idea of america that we are a grand experiment
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and it's worth fighting for that, because we are the world's last best hope and if we fail, then democracy fails. if oppressed people are looking to us, that's the message you gave and it was inspiring. i think people -- you go to the war and fight and lose 300,000 some men simply because of some economic interests in the nation. it was a stream that lincoln -- that's the genius of lincoln, not that he created these ideas that that he had wasted them in a way that was appealing to the -- he caught the country in a way that was able to mobilize. for four long years it's just incredible. >> and he was organically connected to what you write about in your book. what you say is the idea of america. >> that's what he says. but our blood, flesh of our flesh. he is the one great president
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who used the founding better than anyone else. and as i say, i think africa has some connection with him. >> i wanted to ask you this, even though it's putting on my head as a civil war historian of the revolutionary period, was lincoln correct in setting up secession and this is according to the founders say that session was a legal -- il legal. my view is lincoln was not correct but he did the right thing any way. >> it depends on what you mean by legal or illegal. that is debatable. let's put it that we come and the south had a case to make that that is how they solve the union as a loose confederacy and up through the civil war the united states was always defined in the plural, the united states are. we were much closer in those years to the union than we are
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to the kind of united states we have now which is a really quite tightknit natural government. so people thought of especially in the south thought of themselves as a big part of the confederation if anything. separate states, and so when you talk about my country, often virginia and then should i support the united states? his demotion was still and that was still strong. the state's work for the most part we don't really think of ourselves as emotionally attached, but the founders did of course and that's why forming the government was so difficult because people thought of their country has virginia or massachusetts or pennsylvania. they had 100 years of loyalty to
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overcome how can you create a european consciousness when you are a bridge or german or french, french and? the loyalty to your nation is so strong how do you create this european union? it's not easy and that is the problem the founders faced is in the united states what is it to be an american? that was very, very difficult, and as the civil war proved, it fell apart but to lincoln to voice the other side that there is something that we have a dream, we have a dream that we are a nation that has an exceptional mission in the world to preserve democracy and bring it to the rest of the world, not by force or troops, but all through the 19th century we supported the revolution with one exception that we support all the resolutions of 1821,
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french bruges' what revolution of 1848 which all field of course but we support it. we were the first state to recognize the new republican space regime. degette overthrown in the power but the first state kept pushing for that with one exception as you know, haiti. we don't recognize the haitian republic which was the second republican the new world until for the very reasons the south had dominated the federal government to such an extent that was an impossibility to recognize the upslope regime that lincoln did but otherwise we look at these other states and now the big change comes and 1917. that's when the russian revolution in the spring you have the azar advocated. seven days later we recognize
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the new russian republic and president wilson is a static about the partner now and the democratic league and we are the first power in the world to recognize the new russian regime, republican regime. this is before the communist takeover. a few months later the bolsheviks overthrow the cernansky government, and you have the bolshevik regime. what happens, the united states became the first and the last major stake in the world to recognize the soviet union. 16 years, four presidencies, the last major -- i think ireland is the last to recognize. what a contrast. why? my explanation and i think it is the only one that makes sense is we saw in the communist ideologies a rise to our own.
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no longer according to the soviets in the vanguard of history this was not a species of the americana. this was a whole new soviet genius all together, and there was a threat. the same kind of desperation as our own. so the conflict between the soviet union and the united states is really an intellectual one from the very beginning, not just competing market society but the fact we are faced with a letter of ideologies that was comprehensive and universal as our own and the cold war really begins 1917. now there's a bullet through the wall because nazi germany represented a much more serious threat it seemed, but quickly back after the war and you know, some of you of a certain age will remember president
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kennedy's inaugural address to pay any price, bear any burden on behalf of liberty. that's a cold war address and why we won and the vietnam. we were not trying to get oil out of vietnam. we went in there because we feared the spread of this communist ideologies and with the collapse of the soviet union 1989 everything changed. and now i think we are in a state of confusion, not sure where we are or what we should do what we are in aspelin during a moment in our history. our military expenditures are equal, almost equal to all the other notions in the world put together. we have a million men and women under our arms and troops in probably 30 countries. no country has ever dominated the world as we do. this is just extraordinary. britain had never did this. we have a dominance like the
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empire that is extraordinarily kind of dominance, and yet we are not quite sure what we should be doing and that i think is came out in devotee and business and its our hesitation in the middle east we are not sure that this is good for us. we have to see. at the same time we can't stand in the way of people wanting to be space. so, we have had an extraordinary history and in a very difficult time, significant time, too. >> let's go back and tie this to the very beginning. if we are talking about the soviet union, of course in the case of russia they've inherited a large land mass and had some 800 years of history, they have tsar's that have ruled the world. in our funding coming and you write about this very powerful
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the and you talk about the audacity of the young americans in this little hoot land mass at the end of the world, and somehow they thought they were going to remake the world. how did that come about? >> when you think about it this is a country of two or 3 million people, 3,000 from the civilization on the outposts of civilization the idea that they have little colonial rebellion had worldwide significance is really arrogance when you think about it. the audacity of these people to think that, yet they did and of course radicals in europe. richard price, the english radical at the unitarian minister, he says in a 75 the american revolution is next to the birth of christ and he's a minister. the most important event in the history of the world, so we were second. only the birth of christ was
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first. that's an extraordinary statement and france fought the 66 people were interested in the revolution because a was a republican revolution. could a republic, meaning a democracy, that's the best way for us to understand, could survive a specially to such a large extent? and so then we are wondering, too, of course the british fought my god, this won't last. they are bound to fail in the democracy it can't be that big. it's going to go very quickly and that was the expectation. and of course that's what americans are thinking about. that is what lincoln -- why are you so obsessed with why we are an experiment? we have to show them. of course the british was hoping the civil war would break the country apart. you know, the british never studied american history that much and when they started studying it, it was only in the late 20th century the study only
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one subject. they were just hoping maybe it would come out differently. [laughter] the americans were filled in this notion that in the vanguard of history we had a message to bring to the world and that is how we saw ourselves. now, it may be delusional, but the french never have admitted that our revolution was more important than theirs. [laughter] from they somehow think there's came first. [laughter] they can freely admit that 1776 received 1789. [laughter] but >> they may be historians that we can do that. >> the americans never forgot that we were the first and we always assume the french were copying and as i say, some would agree with that but for the most part people in mid 19th century -- there's a classic example of
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this. the third empire gets over through 1970. the third french republic was astonished. president grant sends a message to the new french republic congratulating him on adopting american political ideals. [laughter] i mean, you can't imagine what these frenchmen would have fought for this message as if the had no democrat or republican in the world to go on. you become american is what grant was saying to them. was incredibly the kind of self-conscious i guess you'd call what audacity or irritants at the center of the revolutionary movement throughout the whole 19th century, and of course that's why we were so upset by the soviet takeover because we were in the vanguard of history leading the world and they are all going to fall less. and we've continued to have that.
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we have something to say to the rest of the world. i think it's a little needed now and confused because we are so powerful. it was easier for the americans in the 19th century because they didn't have the huge armies, therefore we could print as much as the water without causing any great trouble in the world. nowadays it's a little trickier. >> gordon, i think we have had a fascinating hour. but i would like to do with this point is get the audience involved and let's do some q&a. there are microphones here on the side so try to line up with those microphones because this is being taped and you will be on c-span. >> okay. i thought that this is a really great talk that you gave, very
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exciting. and i wanted to ask you about the practicalities that the founding fathers say they were on the east coast, and they knew perfectly well that there was a whole long 3,000 miles to the west coast, and felt that practically speaking they were not going to let just anybody occupied the area. so i felt that maybe with that as a kind of inspiration to think of yourself as important you really had quite a task ahead of you, and it was eighth reliever rich part of the world? >> well, until 1803, the united states did not own the territory west of the mississippi.
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but i think someone like jefferson is our greatest expansionist in our history had a vision that all that territory would come to us. he had what i would call demographic imperialism. we were reproducing ourselves twice as fast as any other nation in western europe. we're battling the population every 20 years or so, and we had simply taken over. as long as it was being held by the spanish for in his mind the declining empire incapable holding on to that territory neither florida or louisiana could be held by the spanish for a long. our demography, our population growth was stand out and they were not sending any people. demographically the spanish or not people in their land, so we
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assumed that would come to us when the spanish treaty which receives the louisianan back to the french in 1802, that's a crisis because the french are different people together. they are powerful. and he is beside himself, and this is when she makes an effort to. so, the answer to that question, they had an awareness that some people, some leaders. jefferson had a very lucid view of the government. he thought would be a consideration. separate states. some people say the western portion broke away from the original united states. why does this matter? as long as they think america we can live with the rest of the confederacy would be okay. so he didn't worry about the breakup of the union as long as
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they had american principles. the others had the future. madison fought that 200 years later the prediction that we would become luxury-loving to big states and the the big dreams. but to the immediate future they still had problems. they had written on the north, canada, and spain was still on the south. so, everything was a little tricky. but they had the vision of the convention taking over the whole continent, and more than the continent. mexico, cuba. some of them jefferson fought cuba will naturally fall to less like ripe fruit. i don't know what he thought would happen to all the spanish. yes, sir. >> it never occurred to me that you mentioned the delay of american recognition of the
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soviet union. but since you did, i'm wondering is at this conventional wisdom a little bit mistaken? because i always thought of the attitude in berlin in 1933 with whom we did have relationships with hitler's germany, but she held the government of that period as a group of psychopaths and gangsters who came to power by illegitimate means. and so one could say the same about linen's seizure of power. so was this really backcourt on our part or was there some fundamental legitimacy of the communist regime from the start and not just some ideological n.v.? >> the fact we were the last trading said something. and obviously the other western powers. we send troops to try to put down -- i am not an expert on the russian revolution, so why -- people here probably no more
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and insured show does, too, but the rest of the powers were fighting by the communist threat, and we made efforts to put it down by force even and sent troops, but i don't think the reason -- it could be -- this would be interesting, i don't know the answer to this, the rise of nazism played into our recognition of the final fdr recommendation of the soviet union and what was it, 1934. 33. okay. yes, sir. go ahead. >> yes, the other side. >> dress congratulations, good questions, lucrative answers. i hope you can address the issue dealing with the political exception. this is intended to dovetail your discretion how america and the idealism of the founders was very much to affect the world with the idea of democracy and the political sense of
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exception. i would like you to define it for the audience. >> exceptional was some? >> where there is a treaty in the many countries recognize way back in history where the freedom fighters from let's say russia could come to america after committing a political sense in their country they come to america as a treaty of non-extradition back to the country so they are treated as criminals. >> i don't know if there are any extradition treaties in the public. we certainly welcome the refugees, and there were no visa requirements in the states to the 19th century except late in the century ephesians or restricted asian immigration but i don't know why anybody would come to america and between 1820
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and 1920 about 35 million people migrated. which convinced a lot of americans that the oppressed people were unable to overthrow their oppressive governments and the only way they could get away from these is to migrate to the united states. it helped convince americans they were the chosen people in the literal sense, not just the defiant stance and that image of ourselves, of course a lot of these people migrated from europe leading because there were no jobs and they were going not just to the united states, but also to argentina, for example. they thought they were all coming here, and that's part of the myth of america. we have the conception of ourselves, which what you're seeing about exceptional was on, we are the exceptional nation for the 19th century because we were the only democracy. and people went who wanted freedom and that was our image. false or not false, what better
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idealized, but that is the image that americans have come and was shared by lots of people. why we have the statue of liberty given to us by the french? that notion that we were receptacle for millions of people was very much a part of our conception of ourselves. yes, go ahead. >> hello. i may student at marshall high school and my name is danny class. i was wondering -- because of the ideal of the revolution was widespread as everyone was talking about in the press. but i want to know to what extent did the founding fathers manipulate the populace into forming an organized rebellion against the british. >> yeah. i mean, i think you can manipulate certain things, but i don't think you can manipulate a whole people into the revolution. i mean, there are incidents that
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are crucial. two parties in the summer of 1773. that was a really brief action on the part of adams and the radicals of massachusetts. they wanted this and are trying to provoke the british government because things have quieted down where the british have the act and the boycotts, riots. a very difficult for the parliament to take out. can that really be done? it's a difficult decision. then they pulled back except for the one and then things are quiet between 77 d and 73. nothing is happening. adams wants to provoke the british so he and a bunch of people disguised as mohawks dumped 10,000 pounds of silver,
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millions of dollars today. that provokes the british in a way that was probably a mistake because the virginians are appalled by this tea party. this is destruction of private property. what are they doing destroying property? the british however have had it. they've refused and the americans all along for a decade. enough is enough and they come in and close the port of boston and a military governor s general. the aggregate the massachusetts charter and appoint a counsel which have here been elected. the town hall meetings except one. this is a massachusetts government and the virginians say wow, because virginia had the revolution, va is upset so
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very upset for the tea party but when they say if they can do that to massachusetts, they can do that to less and virginia is on board and the revolution is inevitable. some confrontation is inevitable. so there was an incident by a small minority there is bold and trippi and could have backfired if the british had come moderately, which is asking a lot. they might have said we are not going to come to the support and it might have fizzled at that point for some of the moment, but in that sense there's a manipulation but you don't manipulate a whole peoples revelation. it's just there's too much support, popular support for its. thank you for your excellent presentation. in your view, today's 20 minute news cycle, c-span, cnn, fox,
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twitter come facebook come and you mentioned briefly about the secrecy. could we have built the same democracy if we were to have the same communications that news cycles we have today? >> you wouldn't have the ear of spring without all these things and the instant communication. that really is the force taking place. >> we live in a different world now and everything gets telescope and i just think that we really would not have had the spread of rioting in the middle east without movies forms of technology that create the instant information. in the 18th-century, there might have been -- the bridge might have held up -- if they could communicate back-and-forth more quickly, they might have been able to -- things might have
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worked out a little better. they might have delayed the process because it was a peculiar evolution the americans on behalf of the english right and it's a very peculiar solution and you have to take that into account. the reason that the french revolution's field and the american revolution did not is because the americans had 100 years of self-government. but we forget that. we forget that massachusetts, virginia, pennsylvania, had been in existence. they didn't have the dhaka see that two out of three could vote. that's better than england, one out of six could vote in england. we had the bill of rights, the english bill of rights, we have habeas corpus, trial by jury, we experienced self-government. so it made so much easier for us. the french have a parliament they had nothing to draw on.
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they had no experience with electing people. it's not surprising they spiraled out. so we have to keep that in mind. we are deeply indebted to our british heritage of all of those rights that we are part of our common law and traditions, so that made a big difference. >> professor wood, thank you for being here. in your work, and ben franklin you recount of benjamin franklin testified in front of the parliament that they do best, or america as it was, was not -- could not be governed by parliament and yet was still loyal to the king. could you distinguish how for americans the ideal of loyalty to the king was different from loyalty to the parliament, and how that would work as a practical matter? >> that's a complicated issue but it's crucial.
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franklin testified because they were now in control and they wanted to repeal the act to get rid of these riots, but at the same time the believers in the parliamentary sovereignty. so to get through parliament the had to build a famous american benjamin franklin and so he comes and testifies that yes, the american people will not accept the stamp act for reviewing the stamp act but they accompany this with in effect we are reviewing this but we have the right to do it. don't kid yourself. they sought power and the final lawmaking authority in the british empire and we have the right to pass the stand act. we're just reserving it for the practical stake but don't get the message from, but declaratory act to read malta parliament has a secret quality.
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parliament represents the people. the king in english history is always the enemy of the people. english history is a contest between going back to the magna carter. the tyrannical kings and the people represented in the house of commons from the 15th century and on. so they see the politics of the parliament as a sacred quality. from the americans, the parliament can have that quality, and they oppose the parliament in 1765 and 1767 and so on. and the british are confused by that. how can you post parliament? it's a sacred bastion of revenue. it's the king that's always the threat to liberty. but the americans don't quite see it that way. and they are forced by the doctrine of sovereignty. you have to have one final lawmaking authority somewhere, and when they are confronted of that choice, and it's given a different debate, they say all right, we are not in the
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department at all, only to the king and that's why the declaration of independence is interesting if you read it. it is a series of this, this, a series of things he has done but he never once mentioned parliament. the parliament passed the stamp act. parliament passed this and yet when it comes to the break there is no mention. what you get is a huge [inaudible] that others. [laughter] that's as close as you come because constitutionally, we have reached a point by 1774 really by the british there were no longer parliament at all. it's often called a commonwealth team of the empire we anticipate the statute of 1931 which sets up the present day common wealth.
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that is queen of new jersey, australia, but each of the parliament's is clear and that's the commonwealth. we anticipate that commonwealth in 1774. we have outlined separate legislatures. that's why fata has to be broken to the one to the king. it's a kind of awkward situation because we have respected parliaments write the passing police to control the trade, and so we were not quite clear to explain that. but nonetheless, it makes an interesting constitutional issue. we want everything to be legal and constitutional so we only have to take one now in 1776 no mention of the parliament. i would cloud the issue. >> when you mentioned you can't, i was wondering what percentage
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of people in that time were tories called loyalists? >> the al qaeda estimates. i think some studies probably 20% of the population, which is 20% of the population, which is in a population of 2 million what is that, 2.5 million? that's 500,000 people. it's a healthy portion, but the majority of the population is patriot. now many people who are natural they never fully appreciate how few tories there were. when it comes down to hudson valley he counts on the tory support. he doesn't get it. instead, he gets harassed by the militia and the army, and by the time he gets to saratoga he has
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lost a good portion of his army. some segments of the country -- >> yeah, i think there were more tories in this house, south carolina, north carolina, largely because the portions had heeded the the cover hated the west and the whigs and they said they didn't fight for them for decades and so well, the enemy of my enemy has got to be my friend, so a lot of the tories, there's a record of tories. if you see in the movie the patriot, mel gibson's famous movie, where he plays from south carolina who has black help, africans, of course mel gibson as a slave owner? but anyway, some truth to the ferocious partisan fighting